Orson is useful for the exploratory phase of research. Notebook entries (cards in Orson) can be combined and visualised in different ways. This is made possible by a series of plugin widgets called contexts, which allow users to arrange entries on a timeline, or on a map; to group them together in different structures and annotate them; or pin them to a virtual pinboard.
Different research hypotheses can be visualised and explored by configuring the content in different ways – by showing it in different contexts. The software doesn't limit the types of visualisation or interaction possible, because new types of display and interaction widgets can always be added, based on users’ requirements; and the source-code is open.